Huanxi Media Group, led by Chairman and powerhouse producer Dong Ping (Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, Journey To The West, Lost In Hong Kong) is teaming with Wong Kar Wai and Peter Chan, signing them to six-year cooperation deals. Both Wong and Chan become Director Shareholders and members of the Artistic Advisory of the group which says it is looking to build “a television and film empire.” Dong previously sold his ChinaVision to Alibaba for $804M which has since been re-christened Alibaba Pictures. Under the agreements unveiled today in Beijing, Huanxi will have rights to invest in forthcoming film and TV productions of both Wong and Chan. First up is an 18 episode, two-season internet drama series co-directed and produced by Wong. This is the In The Mood For Love filmmaker’s first time producing and directing for online. Huanxi will take exclusive global distribution and sub-licensing rights to the production for 10 years. With regard to American Dreams In China helmer Chan, Huanxi will have priority rights to invest up to 60% in two-to-four films he directs and produces, and a first-look at new media distribution for six years. The group has also entered similar deals with directors Li Yang (Blind Shaft) and Liu Xingang (Five Star Hotel); sci-fi writer Liu Cixin; and producer/director Ning Hao (Breakup Buddies). Helmer Xu Zheng is also part of a new deal which will include comedy fantasy Mr. Pig and another installment in his Lost series which has included Lost In Thailand and Lost In Hong Kong.
ITV drama Endeavour has been picked up for a fourth season produced by Mammoth Screen. The prequel to Inspector Morse stars Shaun Evans as the young Morse. Creator Russell Lewis will again write the series. Roger Allam returns as DI Fred Thursday alongside Anton Lesser as Chief Superintendent Reginald Bright, Sean Rigby as PC Jim Strange, James Bradshaw as Doctor Max deBryn, Caroline O’Neil as Win Thursday, Dakota Blue Richards as WPC Shirley Trewlove, and Abigail Thaw as Dorothea Frazil. Season 4 picks up as Oxford’s finest are picking up the pieces of their lives, both personal and professional. The summer of 1967 is on the turn and at Lovelace College, a team of boffins is about to unveil a “thinking machine” that will challenge the Soviets, and plunge Endeavour and Thursday into their most perilous, baffling and darkly terrifying case to date. Next year marks the 30th anniversary of Inspector Morse on ITV and Endeavour is expected to tip its trilby at the older series with special guest casting, heritage characters and stories. Colin Dexter, whose first Morse story was published in 1975, continues his association with the drama, acting as a consultant. The most recent episodes had a consolidated average rating of 6.3M viewers and a 22 share.
Channel 4 has taken a minority stake in Barcroft Holdings, its first investment in a British multi-media company specializing in content creation and digital distribution. This is part of the group’s digital innovation strategy. The fund has traditionally invested in UK production companies. Barcroft creates, licences, distributes and publishes news and factual content across its core businesses: Barcroft Media, Barcroft Productions, Barcroft TV and branded content arm Barcroft Plus. Credits include The Outsiders (MTV), Body Bizarre (TLC) and Bear Grylls: Man Vs. Everest (Discovery). Barcroft TV’s YouTube channel has over 2M subscribers. Sam Barcroft founded the company in 2003.
Alex Jones and Belinda Campbell have been appointed joint Managing Directors of Red Planet Pictures as the indie moves forward with expansion plans. Founded by Tony Jordan in 2005, credits include Death In Paradise and The Passing Bells. The UK-based company has also named Alex Protherough Head of Production and Newton Velji Head of Development, Factual. Jordan becomes CEO to oversee Red Planet’s expansion with a focus on working with writers and creating new content. Jones was previously Head of Business and Production at Red Planet while Campbell was Head of Drama. Protherough was with Little Island and also worked at Company Pictures for five years. Velji joins from Crackit Productions (Almost Impossible Gameshow, Sweet 16 UK).
Maverick Television has appointed two senior development executives — Emily Mayer and Natalie Goldberg — in newly created roles within their UK and U.S. teams. Mayer has been named SVP of Development in the U.S. and will oversee all unscripted development. An All3Media company, Maverick’s U.S. outpost produces Chrisley Knows Best. Mayer joins from Fishbowl World Media. Goldberg is taking on the role of Head of Development in the UK. She was previously Development Executive at Betty. Maverick’s UK series include Channel 4’s Embarrassing Bodies; Discovery’s Engine Addict; the BBC’s Bizarre ER; ITV’s Billy Connolly’s Route 66; and Sky One’s How To Look Good Naked and 10 Years Younger.